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Celebrity's Picture: Using Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Portraits to Observe Historic Changes

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1862

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1862 / NPS, Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site

Schoff's engraving of the 1862 Healy painting present Longfellow as a sober, less approachable celebrity.

Healy painted the poet once more in 1870, depicting the "splendid-looking man, with perfectly white hair and beard---eyes bright and expressive--with one of his daughters, a very young girl with golden hair."

Recounting his exchanges with the Longfellows on their Roman holiday, the artist does not mention that he worked from a photo, placing the pair in front of the well-known classical arch without seeing them there.

Their visit produced a rather more interesting work from Healy after he introduced the poet to the musician, Franz Liszt: "The characteristic head, with the long iron-gray hair, the sharp-cut features and piercing dark eyes, the tall, lank body draped in the priestly garb, formed so striking a picture that Mr. Longfellow exclaimed under his breath: "Mr Healy, you must paint that for me!" So he did. (Quotes are from Healy's memoir, pp. 219, 220; double portrait reproduced on p. 218)

See slide 25


Item 31 of 35